Mother’s Day reflections

I’m still here.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing, but not publicly. I’ve taken (again) to journaling. You know? The good, ol’ fashioned pen and paper? I wrote in November about some of the struggles my family was going through late last year. December was a tough month; within about a 3 week time span, my grandfather passed away, my mom had brain surgery to remove a benign tumor and (on that same morning) a beloved aunt passed away. In all of this, I also turned 30, have been struggling with some interpersonal relationships and have been going through some exciting professional developments.

I’ve said time and time again, I process through words, especially in community with others. Hence, my blog. But a lot of the stuff I’ve been processing and reflecting has been deeply personal and raw. Stuff that is better processed privately for my own reflection and growth.

But I also have been encouraged by comments – both via social media and in person – from those who have been touched by things I have to say. I have been encouraged by others who are vulnerable in their own public sharing.

So here I am again, even if it feels vulnerable and even if I feel like a broken record. I wonder if some might think that I’m a broken record, speaking of longing and loss again. But others are living that broken record with me, feeling and experiencing the same or similar grief in their own lives. May my “tune” be a reminder that you’re not alone, that I’m not alone.

I wanted to write about Mother’s Day yesterday, but I needed a little distance from the day. I needed a sleep and a morning coffee before I could write words. Mother’s Day this year was bittersweet. The week before Mother’s Day, my family traveled with me to Ottawa for some work-related meetings. Following the meetings, my family took some vacation time in Ottawa (to see the tulips and the “castle” as A.J. calls it, or otherwise known as Parliament) and then on to Montreal where we met up with my parents, grandmother, uncle and extended family for the internment of my great aunt who passed away in December. Mother’s Day was spent in Montreal with my mom and grandmother, and then the rest of the day was spent on a long drive home to wrap up the week.

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Being away from home provides perspective. Returning to our peaceful home last night gave me fresh eyes for what I love most here. My peaceful places are my kitchen and gardens, so returning last night to see what has started blooming since I’ve been gone and making Dutch pancakes for A.J. in my kitchen this morning was so nice.

In the years of infertility before having A.J., Mother’s Day was a day spent celebrating the mothers and women in my life mixed with grief and mourning that it was difficult to become a mom myself. The years immediately following A.J.’s birth, I was celebratory. I was more reflective of the complexities of Mother’s Day – especially for those who find the day to be painful – but ultimately I was so incredibly thankful that I could celebrate the day as a mother. This year, I felt myself slipping back into feelings of longing tinged with grief.

These are not new feelings, but Mother’s Day amplified some of the reflections I’ve been having over the last couple of months.

We are 2 years into this second journey of infertility. I often find myself seeking to be intentionally thankful. As I dwell on infertility, I remind myself that when I wallow, I am missing out on what’s right in front of me. As I want another child, I don’t want to miss out on the joyful moments with the incredibly fun-loving, delightful child I do have. (I am currently watching her do yoga; she makes me smile so much, I can hardly bear it). I also don’t want to miss out on the other opportunities in my life. Infertility comes with so many choices – when to proceed, what treatments to pursue, how much to divulge with family and friends.

There’s a tension between being thankful and living in the moment, and mourning for the loss I feel. I try not to be blinded by longing, I try to live every day thankful for the blessings I do have. But some days are more difficult than others. Some days, I log onto social media to find another pregnancy announcement(s). I can’t help but realize that in the span of our 7 year infertility journey, some of my friends have completed growing their family or are on to their third, fourth, fifth, and – yes – even sixth child.

This isn’t meant to be a guilt trip. I’m not even intending for it to be a comparison. Because I also realize that as I sit here typing, there are some who could be reading this thinking, “well, at least Jennifer has one!” I’m painfully aware of those who have struggled with infertility longer than myself and have not been able to conceive or give birth. So I sit here feeling a little guilty for complaining.

Loss is complex. Grieving is complex. Feelings are complex.

I was encouraged yesterday by the number of people (mainly expressed via social media) who acknowledged the complexities of Mother’s Day! I had a number of people reach out to me and acknowledge the complexity of my own day. I am so appreciative for the vast number of empathetic and emotionally aware people in my life!

Here are some more pics from our time away.

A.J. rarely naps anymore… But she passed out in Byward Market which allowed Mark and I to have some drinks and yummy treats at The Brig Pub (we loved it there – highly recommend it!).

Cheese overload – shrimp fondue and brie.

Happy to be reunited in Montreal!

She had a little fun with a pen….. “Look mom! I have a tattoo on my arm like you do!”

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Canada and the third-largest in North America. It’s the cemetery where Celine Dion’s husband and Maurice “Rocket” Richard are buried. But, even more special, it’s where we laid Auntie Sheila to rest and got to visit A.J.’s great great grandmother (my great grandmother).

A.J.’s great great grandmother

All I wanted for Mother’s Day was Todd Parr’s The Mommy Book. I got this and more from my daughter and husband.

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3rd & 30th birthday tea party

In December, A.J. turns 3 and I turn the big 3-0. Wanting to do something special for my 30th, I “asked” A.J. if she would share her birthday party with me… Now, she’s quite a sharing girl, but I also knew she didn’t really understand what that meant so I took advantage to have a shared birthday party.

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In October, my parents came over for a fun tea party “photo shoot” in our front yard. I turned to Pinterest to gather any and all ideas for a tea party. For me, a good party has good food! As always, I have these grand intentions of having everything prepared, cooked and on the table for when people arrive. One of these days, I aim to be sipping coffee peacefully on my couch when the first guest shows up. Instead, time often gets away from me and I always seem to be a hectic mess running around the kitchen… I couldn’t have done it all without those early friends and family helping me out once they arrived.

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My parents found these tiny tea cups at a thrift store a couple of weeks ago. When Mark and I got married, we registered for and received beautiful china that came with tea cups and saucers. We rarely use them, usually opting for much larger mugs for our coffee! Planning for this party, I was hesitant to use our tea cups in case they got broken, but I figured I would much rather use them, enjoy them and risk breaking them than have them always sit in our china hutch gathering dust. It was so nice to be able to use them yesterday (and none got broken too!).

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The last two birthday parties for A.J., there were mainly adults or small children in attendance, so I didn’t plan for any activities beyond eating and talking. This year, there were many more children, so we filled a piñata and also made fascinators out of supplies we got from the dollar store.

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In advance of the party, I cut stiff felt into squares, cut two narrow slits, and slipped the felt onto headbands. I provided a collection of tule, feathers, fake flowers and sparkly Christmas decor and let the kids pick whatever they wanted to decorate their fascinators. I used a hot glue gun to attach it all to the felt. The kids loved them – boys and girls!

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Benjamin bear, the model!

I was happy with the recipes I found on Pinterest! I went through a lot of sweet scones recipes before deciding to stick with the basic. I used this recipe for the scones and this recipe for mock Devonshire cream. I went a little overboard with how many I made… I didn’t want to run out, and instead I’ll be eating scones for days.

My mom made my favourite dessert, vanilla squares (or Napoleon). Upon searching Google, I see that it is a French pastry, but it’s quite common in Dutch circles around here. I love sweets and desserts, and I think this is my favourite. Then I made a brownie oreo triffle, which was good but a little too sweet for me (coming from me, that says a lot!).

I had grand plans to make my own quiche! And then when I was doing groceries the day before the party, I saw quiche for a very reasonable price and decided to save myself the time. I think it was the best decision I could have made…

For tea sandwiches, I stuck to good ol’ pb&j and then got a little fancier with turkey cranberry sandwiches and goat cheese, honey and fruit crostinis.

Mark convinced me to make deviled eggs; I had never made them before and was surprised at how easy they were. I should have made more because they went quickly, and Mark – who specifically asked for these – didn’t even get any by the time he finally ate.

Wanting to stick to the “tea” theme with drinks, I made an iced tea punch and an iced tea sangria. I had never made sangria before and was a little intimidated; I didn’t want to mess up a drink the adults were sure to like! How did I never know how easy (and fool proof!) sangria is?! Knowing how easy it is, I’m tempted to make it every weekend – party or no party!

Considering that so many adults are in attendance, I wanted to provide a favour for everyone. I used this “recipe” to make a “bath tea bag” recipe. After the party yesterday, my feet were so tired I had a nice soak with a couple of bags.

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A.J. is always so lovingly spoiled by our friends and family! This year, we asked people to consider donating to Restorations in honour of our birthdays. I sit on the board of directors for this charity (we are working to open a long term home for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation), and it was so special to us to see loved ones contributing to a cause so near and dear to my heart! With some donations provided at the party, we have raised over $500 (the goal was $333 to stick with the three theme…). You can check out our fundraising efforts here until A.J.’s birthday (December 13).

Considering that A.J. will be starting school next fall, I figure that next year’s birthday party will be one with just her friends. I considered this party my last “hurrah” for giving her a big party with all our friends and family. Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated with us!

that moment my heart shattered

I mentioned in my last post that Mark and I have been seeking some answers for infertility. This has led to some tough conversations with A.J. in addition to another necessity of having some conversations with her about death and dying.

I try to avoid bringing A.J. with me to the fertility clinic when possible (for her sake and mine – it’s much easier to endure blood work and ultrasounds when I only have to worry about myself, and I don’t want to overwhelm her with things she doesn’t need to concern herself with). But there are times when it’s unavoidable and I have to bring her. Yesterday was one of those days; I had to go in for just bloodwork, and the one time she’s come with me in the past, she was so preoccupied with her game (yay, Strawberry Shortcake) that she paid no attention to what was being done to me.

Yesterday, the nurse was having a heck of a time getting blood (out of my bruised arms…. What people must wonder). A.J. looked a little concerned as the nurse was digging for a vein but didn’t say much. As we were leaving the clinic, I grabbed a coffee (one of the perks I guess… Free coffee machine). As I was prepping my coffee in the foyer filled with people, A.J. suddenly asks me loudly “Mommy, are you dying?” I swear, my heart shattered right then and there.

I instantly stopped focusing on my coffee (but didn’t abandon it altogether because, c’mon, free coffee…) and knelt down and assured her I wasn’t.  I finished making it, then we went outside and sat on a picnic bench for a while to chat.  I know she didn’t really understand what she was asking.  But it broke my heart that she even wondered it. I explained to her that some people have to go to the doctor because they are very, very sick, but that mommy’s doctor was helping her to have a baby so she (A.J.) could have a baby brother or sister. A.J. responded with “yeah, a baby brother. So I can hold him. On the plane. When we go on a plane.” She’s so confused, and I don’t know whether that makes me sad that she has to deal with these issues (issues that I find difficult to cope with) or happy that she doesn’t really understand what’s going on. What a constant adventure – figuring out when to address something she says (“no, baby, I’m not dying!”) and when to nod and go with it (“yes, hun, you can hold a baby on the plane…”)

tough conversations

I promise, this post was in development even before the American presidential election yesterday! I know lots of us are having tough conversations with our kids about the election results. I am thankful that A.J. is not at that age where she has heard about the election (and its candidates) at places like school or from friends and has fear or anxiety about some of the issues raised… But on to my original post!


As A.J. gets older and older, I realize how much fun this stage of life is. She’s an inquisitive, playful and imaginative little girl and yet she is still so much my baby. She loves to talk and is quite articulate, and the conversations we are able to have are so much fun.

And yet… It’s the age where the questions start coming. The toddler/preschooler age of constant “why”s and questioning. It’s the age of embarrassing statements, proclamations and questions in public. She’s learning and expanding her worldview. It’s fun. It’s exhausting. And it’s often difficult.

One of her favourite snacks are Crispy Mini crackers, in particular ketchup flavoured (for my American friends, yes we have ketchup flavoured crackers and chips – my favourite!). Often after a snack, I tell her I need to wash her “ketchupy” hands and “ketchupy” face. We were at a Starbucks a few months ago and as we approached the counter, A.J. stated loud enough for me to hear (but not loud enough for anyone else I think) “mommy, she has a ketchupy face!” It was then I noticed that the barista had severe acne on her face. I was mortified at the thought of embarrassing the young woman, and yet A.J. didn’t say it to be shameful, taunting or to embarrass. She was just taking in the world around her and reflecting on her own experiences and knowledge. I didn’t know how to handle it – do I ignore what she said and not address it with her because no one else had heard? How do I talk to a 2 year old about bodies, body image, and things about our bodies (acne, weight, and other body features) that shouldn’t be shameful but most definitely are in our society? I quickly hushed her (confusing her in the process…), ordered our drinks (fervently hoping she wouldn’t ask again!) and brought her to our table. I can’t exactly what words I used, but I brought up to her what she had said. I’m fairly certain I projected shame and embarrassment onto her, because she seemed embarrassed at what she said but I could tell she didn’t understand why. I told her that the woman didn’t have a “ketchupy” face from crackers, but that sometimes boys and girls, men and women have really red skin. I told her that I had red skin when I was a little girl. But I also asked that she not point it out. She seemed really embarrassed, so I tried to assure her. Then I asked her,”doesn’t that girl have such a beautiful smile?” and she agreed. I asked her “wasn’t she so kind to make us our drinks!” and she agreed. And that was that. I had no idea what to do, and I’m not even certain I handled it right. But how else do you handle toddler proclamations but on the fly?

In the last couple of months, we’ve had to address some tough family topics. We have conversations with A.J. about our desire to have a “baby sister” or “baby brother” for her. I think she somewhat understands the concept of siblings because her baby cousin was just born this past spring and is the “baby brother” of A.J.’s older female cousin. But despite having conversations with her about topics like siblings, adoption, family structures, etc. she certainly doesn’t understand the nitty gritty of everything… More specifically, procreation! In my last post, I mentioned how she had exclaimed at the family dinner table that she wanted a baby brother. These random exclamations have occurred more since then. After a while of trying (unsuccessfully) to grow our family, Mark and I have decided to pursue fertility testing to determine what some of our infertility issues might be. It’s been a tiresome (physically and emotionally) couple of weeks of various tests and appointments. During one particular appointment last week, I left A.J. and Mark at home. Later he shared with me that A.J. had passed the “future baby’s” room and proclaimed that I was bringing home her baby brother. Not only was I going to be bringing home a baby, but I was going to be bringing one home “today!” According to Mark, A.J. had quite the meltdown when he told her she wouldn’t be getting a baby brother that day. She just doesn’t understand – she doesn’t understand what having a sibling really means, she doesn’t understand that it might not be as easy for us to give her a sibling as it may be for other couples, she doesn’t understand that we want to be able to give her a sibling more than she actually wants one. But in the meantime, we continue to have honest conversations about our desire to grow our family. Yesterday she had to come with me to an appointment because we were going to be running errands right afterwards and then meeting with Mark to see Trolls (loved it, btw!). She wanted to know which doctor we were going to (she had been to the optometrist and our family doctor for an ear infection the week prior). I told her it was a doctor she had never met before and that this doctor was helping us have another baby so she could have a baby brother or baby sister. She was silent for a moment and then said “mommy, I love you so much.” I swear, I could feel my heart melt into a pool.

Other tough conversations we’ve been forced to have is about death. Last year, we put our cat down and also had our rooster slaughtered. Our indoor cat – she never asks about. Our rooster who was only with us for about 4 months, she still asks where he went… But them aside, we have avoided having conversations about death. When she watches The Lion King and asks what’s wrong with Simba’s daddy, we’ve often (admittedly) just avoided the conversation. But my grandfather (A.J.’s great grandfather) has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Upon hearing the news and realizing that sooner than later we would have to talk to A.J. about death and dying, I did what I do best – find books. After searching for ideas online, it was difficult to find books in our library system that were age appropriate and weren’t completely overwhelming or complex. I found the following to be the most helpful, some with minor improvisations:

Rabbityness by Jo Empson

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This book doesn’t really talk about the process of dying and death, but it is a story about a rabbit who “disappears” and how the remaining rabbits cope with sadness and loss.

When Dinosaurs Die by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown.

 

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I really had to do a lot of improvisation for this book. It’s a great starting point and talks about the death of someone who is aged or sick, coping with loss, and life after loss. But it also briefly talks about war, murder, and suicide – topics I am just not ready (or have the need) to talk about with my 2 year old… The bonus of using books as a learning tool with a kid who can’t read yet – you can “read” whatever you want and they won’t know the difference.

I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas

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I liked this book for A.J.’s age. I tweaked some words just for her understanding, but not too many.

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr

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Oh, how I love Todd Parr. His ability to talk to kids about tough issues, and yet not be heavy or overwhelming. His colourful illustrations. His lovely message at the end of each book complete with his signature “Love, Todd.” (The other day, A.J. was “reading” a note on the counter – i.e. making up words. After rambling about whatever it was she believed the note said, she finished with “Love, Todd.” You know you read a lot of Todd Parr books when…). This book isn’t necessarily about death – it’s about saying goodbye to someone or something you love and the associated loss and grief. I love this book for any kids who suffer loss. It helps them identify some of the feelings they may be having and validating them.

What are some of the tough conversations you’ve had lately? What are some of the most useful books you’ve used?

thanksgiving

I love the Facebook memories feature. Especially around holidays, it’s lovely to be able to see what was happening in my life years past.

Facebook reminded me this morning that 5 years ago, Mark and I were spending Thanksgiving in Myrtle Beach visiting my parents. Oh, how I long to be back there! The warmer weather, the ocean and the palm trees. I love fall, and Thanksgiving has to be tied with Christmas as my favourite holiday. Being home this Thanksgiving weekend is great – milder weather, changing leaves on the trees, and special time with family. We were supposed to camp this weekend, something I was incredibly excited about because I’ve always wanted to go camping in October and be in the middle of nature changing seasons, but Mark’s truck broke down a couple of weeks leaving us with nothing to tow our trailer. Enjoying fall from the comfort of home isn’t bad though.

Facebook memories also reminded me this morning that 5 years ago this Thanksgiving weekend, we announced to my parents that we were planning to adopt. My parents took lovely photos of us while we were in Myrtle Beach so we could share the news with others. Incredible to think that was 5 years ago, although plans changed slightly with getting pregnant with A.J. almost 2 years later.

Last night at a family Thanksgiving dinner, A.J. exclaimed “I promise, I want a baby brother! I want a baby brother!” It simultaneously melted and broke my heart. Even though she doesn’t fully understand what it means, she and I have had conversations about whether or not she would like a baby brother or baby sister. I think as she gets older and sees other children with siblings, she’s starting to grasp what all that means.

Like 5 years ago, this Thanksgiving our hearts long for our family to grow. But in the midst, I am thankful for:

  • My precious family and extended families.
  • Our home, for the warmth and comfort it provides – from the elements and also as a safe refuge for our family to bond and connect.
  • A job that allows me to use my passions, interests, skills and talents to make an impact in our world.
  • Access to books of all kinds so that even from the comfort of my home, I am transported to different times, places and worlds. And am exposed to various issues, mindsets, and perspectives.
  • Grace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thankful also for parents who are photographers!

expectations

Today, my husband and I celebrate 7 years of marriage! I truly love doing life with him.

Within a year of getting married, we decided that we wanted to grow our family. It’s hard to believe that that was 6 years ago! Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot on expectations – personal expectations I’ve had for myself that haven’t been fully realized and coping with the failure the reality of that. I turn 30 this December, and I fully expected that we would be nearly done growing our family by now, at the very least be finished having biological children before we focused on growing our family through adoption. After finishing my Masters last year, it was our hope that we would have another biological child before I turned 30. As the necessary conception month for that came and passed, I consoled myself by thinking “well, that’s ok. As long as I’m pregnant by the time I turn 30, that’s ok.” December is quickly approaching, and I’ve been reflecting on how and why people find meaning in expectations in connection with age. Why is it that we have certain expectations (personally and imposed by societal norms) of completing school, getting married, starting a family, retiring, etc. at or before a certain age?

With infertility, it’s hard.  There’s so much hope and waiting (and hope in waiting). Every season, holiday and anniversary that approaches, I’m left thinking by Christmas, maybe we will be able to announce a pregnancy. Maybe I’ll be pregnant over the warm months of summer? How do I plan my life and schedule around hopeful anticipation? How many years will A.J. and her sibling be apart?  Each birthday, holiday and anniversary is a milestone complete with memories of what we have enjoyed and endured. It’s also a time of checking off another year with some unfulfiled hopes and plans for our family.

There is obviously nothing wrong with growing your family in your thirties or later, but infertility already leaves me feeling so disempowered and out of control, that I wrestle with also having to come to terms with my personal expectations that have not come to fruition within my desired timeline.

I woke up this morning happy to be beside the man I married 7 years ago. I look back at what we have been through over that time: academic pursuits and professional development, loss of close family members, hard work, fun play, changing jobs and career paths, and welcoming our daughter who is the light of our lives.

As we long for our family to grow, I try to focus less on expectations (which, to me, feels like a checklist of goals) and more on hope.

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As I think back to our wedding day, I’m trying to remember everything that was going through my mind on that day (it’s difficult as our wedding day – like many – is just a whirlwind of fleeting memories), in particular the hope and expectations we had for our lives as we started our newly joined family as husband and wife. Our wedding vows are on the wall in our family room, and I returned to them to see what expectations we had for ourselves and each other:


I, Jennifer, take you, Mark, to be my husband and in doing so, commit my life to you, encompassing all joys and sorrow, all hardships and triumphs, and all experiences of life. 

I promise you my faithful and enduring love and devotion, to be expressed to you each day and in all situations. 

I promise to share my thoughts and feelings with you, and to be honest and truthful. 

I promise to encourage you in abundance and in need. 

I promise to honour you, create a loving home for you, and to be true to you until death alone shall part us. 

I vow this as a covenant made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and daily made new. 

And through these vows, lived daily, we do life together and hope for our family. (Happy anniversary, Mark! I can’t imagine life without you!)

(I’m not crying! YOU’RE crying!)

Be strong and courageous

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A.J. is one of the most independent toddlers I’ve met.  But sadly she has adopted her fierce impatience from me… Lately, she has been crying out “I can’t do it!” when she gets just too overwhelmed with the task at hand. I encourage her as much as I can, and I pray as she goes through life crying “I can’t do it” at moments and situations where she feels down about herself, she is surrounded by others who will empower and encourage her.

During August, I have been writing blog posts for The Twelve on Sundays, and I consider this week’s writing sort of a “Dear A.J.” post (in a series where I document memories and thoughts about A.J.’s life).

You can read more here.

Asserting myself through infertility

I hate confrontation… I hate conflict. And I have been trying to work at becoming more assertive and confident in loving and compassionate ways. I have come to realize that I do not always assert myself in situations where I should because I am nervous about hurting other peoples’ feelings in the process of asserting my own. (Side note: I love reading, so if you have any books that you think I would like, tell me!)

It is not news that conceiving is hard for me and my husband. So far, our infertility is unexplained (we have had a few tests to be able to rule out some things, but nothing has become clear about why it has been difficult for us to conceive). In the three years we waited to have a child (before A.J.), it was difficult for me to overhear complaints about other peoples’ pregnancies or children. In my own longing for children, I became bitter overhearing others complain about things like tiredness or morning sickness; when I suffered from both while pregnant with A.J., I had a greater appreciation for expecting mothers needing to share their experiences with others, both positive and difficult. (I wrote a little about this here). As I long for another child, I try to remind myself of this as I feel the creeping of bitterness overcome me again. I have been working to find ways to be joyful in others’ growing families while also preserving myself and mental well-being. One of these ways was to remove myself from some social media platforms where I found I was becoming discouraged when I came across peoples’ complaints of weight gain, tiredness, sickness, or something else that they were entirely allowed to feel, but in the process triggered me into a spiral of sadness and self pity.

This past weekend, we were watching the Olympics with my parents. With the exception of A.J., everyone in the room suffers from their own personal physical affliction(s) – bad knees, hips,shoulders and backs all around. Watching a gymnastics event, we all watched in awe, exclaiming that it pained us just to watch these women run, fling themselves over a vault, twirl through the air, and land (or not land…). Watching others in their physical prime reminded us of our own incapacities. We were in awe of these athletes and their talents, skills and abilities while also very aware of our own shortcomings.

I feel similar when I hear and see pregnancy announcements. Especially being fortunate to already be a mom myself and knowing the happiness A.J. brings to our entire family, I feel joy for someone else when they announce that their family is growing. But lately I have heard and read many exclaim excitedly that getting pregnant happened on their first try, or very easily, or perhaps was a joyful “surprise”. I can’t help but admit that hearing of other peoples’ fertility only makes me so much more aware of my own broken body and infertility. 

I have written before about finding strength through my faith and through the Bible. On Pinterest, I came across a printable which really resonated with feelings I have been having about my body and how it is failing me in our desire to have another baby. I have been reflecting on all that I experienced while waiting for A.J. – experiences and jobs I wouldn’t have had if we had gotten pregnant right away.  And I take comfort in knowing that God has stuff in store for me as I await another child. I have taken the verse and created a cover picture for Facebook for anyone else who would like to use it.

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In reflecting on how I assert myself and communicate, I have realized (read: am realizing this only as I am writing this post) that I have hesitated to share too much of my own longing for another child, the difficulties of infertility, and my feelings about it all. I think that I resist being too vulnerable in fear of making others feel uncomfortable. (Even as I write this post, I second guess actually publishing it). But this is my journey, my reality. I’ve shared before that I enjoy writing to process my feelings. As many of my friends and family who have read my (very) sporadic postings can attest, I cannot promise to write faithfully. But I was invited this month to be a guest poster on The Twelve for the four Sundays of August, and I have come to appreciate the discipline of making myself sit down, reflect and write as a practice. So perhaps I will try to be more disciplined at writing here. And maybe this will be a place where others who are feeling vulnerable about their journeys can feel less lonely.

A new room for A.J.

Today, A.J. officially moved into her new bedroom.

It was so bittersweet.

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When we first moved in almost two years ago, we were torn between putting her into the smaller room across the hall from our master bedroom, or the much larger room at the end of the hall – the best room on the second floor, and arguably the best room in the whole house as it’s very bright with three windows and a nice view (the fluorescent pink on the walls might also contribute to the brightness…).  A.J. was only 9 months old when we moved in, so the room across the hall was better for any middle of the night wake ups. The plan was for her to graduate into the larger pink room when we were to get pregnant again, keeping the smaller blue room as a nursery.

We’ve been waiting and so hoping for a reason to move A.J. into the larger, nicer room. And unfortunately we have not had a reason to kick her out of the nursery yet. We contemplated keeping her in her existing room for as long as it takes for us to get pregnant again (down the hall seems so far from us when there’s a closer room!), but it seemed like such a shame to waste the brightest room upstairs! So, with excitement and some sadness, I tackled the “pink room.” It has acted as a “guest bedroom” over the last two years. And by “guest bedroom,” I mean it had a double bed in there until A.J. started using just the mattress a couple months ago, and we left the frame and box spring sitting in the corner utterly surrounded by piles of storage and boxes… I really wish I had taken a “before” picture before organizing the room, because I could hardly walk around in it…

Part of cleaning out the larger room was going through all of the baby stuff that A.J. no longer uses – bins and bins full of clothes, soothers, smaller cloth diapers as well as her old crib, bathtub, toys, a swing, etc. Oh the feelings, of having to go through that stuff… For the last two years, I have been putting this stuff away in the “pink room” with bittersweet feelings – knowing that A.J. was growing big and strong, and excitement that one day I would get to go through everything again when we were ready to use the nursery for a new baby.  To have to go through all this stuff just for the sake of cleaning and organizing- not because there is a need to pull everything out, launder it, organize it – it was hard.

While organizing, I came across this door hanger that I made while we were waiting to get matched (when we were going through the adoption process, before we were surprised with A.J.). For the second time, I placed this door hanger on the door knob and wondered what the future of our family will look like. For now, the nursery contains stuff that we will hopefully be able to use again. We’ll likely keep the door closed – it’s hard to see the piles of stuff.  Plus, we also have a cat so the less vacuuming I have to do, the better. And there are quite a few annoying baby toys in there that A.J. would love to get her hands on again!

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But cleaning and organizing had it’s sweet times too. I came across some boxes of things I had put away until A.J. got a little bit older, like some porcelain dolls that were mine when I was a young girl. A.J. loved seeing them and constantly asks to hold them; it was an odd feeling to see her playing with things that I was fond of when I was young. There were also tons of books that I had purchased while we were in the “waiting” phase during our pre-A.J. life, so now her book collection has almost doubled!

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As emotional (and a little teary) as the last couple of days have been, I’m glad I managed to push through. A.J. loves her new room. And it sure does feel great not to have such a cluttered and junk-filled room!

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Those windows though!!!

You are getting so big…

Dear A.J.

Tonight when I put you to bed, I held back tears. It was your first night in your “big girl bed” (a double mattress on the floor). You are getting so big.

Earlier today when I was getting you out of your carseat, you said to me “I want you to be my friend, mommy” and it melted my heart. You are getting so big.

When we got home and moved the mattress into your room, your (insistent) response to me laying on your new bed was “no mommy, don’t lie on my bed.”  You are getting so big.


But tonight when I tucked you into your new bed and went to leave, you kept insisting “lie down with me mommy.” And I couldn’t resist. I often still “rock you like a baby” (usually at your request). When I do this, I ask you “are you mommy’s baby?” And you typically respond with “I’m your baby and your big girl.” Tonight, tucking your small body into such a big bed, you were definitely my baby and my big girl. You are getting so big.

I had to take this picture when you threw your arms out to hug us both saying “I love you guys!!! This is the best day ever!” You usually proclaim every day is the best day ever, and I absolutely love this joy about you.

 ***please excuse the poor quality phone pictures!